BENGALURU: School-going children, at the most risk of being attacked by stray dogs, will now be trained on how to deal with dogs in a way that keeps them and the animals safe. ‘Canine psychology’ workshops or awareness programmes will soon be introduced in some schools, courtesy of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP). Speaking to City Express, newly appointed Mayor Gangambike Mallikarjun said that the initiative was planned by her after incidents of dogs biting children were seen to be on the rise in the city.
“I will soon consult with many NGOs and also canine psychologists in the city to begin these awareness classes in schools. I have noticed that children are primarily being attacked and they should definitely know what to do and what not to do when around dogs,” the mayor said. In the coming days, Gangambike will hold talks with officials of the education department to ensure that every school in the city carries out such programmes every two or three months.
With the BBMP barred from relocating dogs, reaching out to students to educate them about the behaviour of dogs is one of the possible solutions according to the mayor.
While the move has been welcomed by animal rights activists, they expressed doubts about whether the initiative would take off and if schools would stick to the schedule.
Sunil, secretary of Akhila Karnataka Prani Daya Sangha, said that such an initiative will definitely help, but also said that he had his doubts. “I am sure they will not do it. We have to teach children how to love animals, not just dogs. If they really want to do something, they should hold animal welfare classes once a week in schools. These kinds of training programmes will again bring in the issue of fundraising and turn in to a money-making initiative,” Sunil said.
Meanwhile, canine psychologist, also known as ‘dog guru’, Amrut Sridhara Hiranya, who also is a consultant to Bengaluru Police’s Canine Squad, appreciated the Mayor’s intention towards the initiative, and said, “Any initiative, if done properly, will work. A dog lover is not the same as a dog psychologist. You can’t just love them and feed them, you need to be responsible when dogs are threatening children.”
According to Amrut, such an education programme should start from the grassroot level, which means, children should be educated about canine psychology in pre-schools.
“Parents also need to be educated about it. It is not only about dos and don’ts around dogs, but parents should also stop telling their children that ‘if you don’t eat food, a dog will bite you’. As children grow up, they feel a dog is chasing them, so they have to run, and the dogs, which have hunter instincts, will definitely chase to stop any fast moving object. And to stop it, since the dog can’t use its paws, it will use the mouth,” he explained.
Also, he said the BBMP needs to first consult and take opinions of canine psychologists as the police department has done.
“I am ready to help the BBMP on this. Sterilisation of dogs has to be done properly. In September, 35,000 dogs were sterilised among a total of 1,85,000 dogs in the city. If they are not sterilised, they will double up by January.” Amrut added.